Big Tech company Twitter says they are working hard to control “emerging narratives” on the Russian conflict with Ukraine, which includes censoring video footage and first-hand accounts taken on the ground as Ukraine experiences its first Russian invasion of the 21st Century.
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine unfolded, Twitter censored posts from civilians showing Russian tanks rolling to the border with Ukraine, and helicopter squadrons flying towards the hotly contested region of Crimea. In addition to censoring the posts, Twitter even suspended some of the accounts sharing footage from the war zone, which had gotten the breaking information out to the world way ahead of corporate media outlets, in many cases.
The rapid censorship led to accusations that Twitter was directly meddling in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and was conducting a campaign to censor “open source intelligence” posted to the platform, something Twitter denied in a public statement. Some also accused Twitter of incompetence, accusing the tech giant of falling prey to “Russian bots” who they say we’re taking advantage of Twitter’s censorship policies, and reporting Tweets in an effort to get war footage taken down and better control the Russian’s narrative of events both at home and abroad.
Despite the denial, Twitter’s statement did little to reassure users of the platform that the Big Tech giant was engaged in anything other than an Orwellian intervention in the complicated Russo-Ukrainian conflict, as spokeswoman Elizabeth Busby admitted that they are working to control “emerging narratives” on the situation in Eastern Europe, and said the impacted accounts were hit for violating Twitter’s policy on “misinformation.”
“We’ve been proactively monitoring for emerging narratives that are violative of our policies,” Busby said, going on to blame several of the day’s censorships and suspensions on moderator error, a standard Twitter excuse. “We took enforcement action on a number of accounts in error,” Busby said, though several of the accounts and tweets still appear to be taken down.
While citizen journalism and posts to social media platforms have played a central role in 21st-century war reporting, internet users worldwide have reported difficulty in finding up-to-date footage and accounts of the unfolding war in Ukraine, and have accused Big Tech and mainstream media of working with NATO to control information.
Interestingly enough, Ukraine’s government even attempted to weaponize Twitter against Russia, publicly asking the platform to censor the official Russian State Twitter account amidst the invasion and asking Twitter users to join them in their demands.
no place for an aggressor like Russia on Western social media platforms
they should not be allowed to use these platforms to promote their image while brutally killing the Ukrainian people @TwitterSupport
— Ukraine / Україна (@Ukraine) February 24, 2022
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